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RE: [XTalk] Miracles and modern historians

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  • Daniel Grolin
    Dear Bob, Gordon and Sukie, First I would like to comment on Gordon s post. I agree that the Elijah-Elisha model is important. Seeing its role in the genesis
    Message 1 of 30 , Feb 3, 2001
      Dear Bob, Gordon and Sukie,

      First I would like to comment on Gordon's post. I agree that the
      Elijah-Elisha model is important. Seeing its role in the genesis of the
      miracle stories overcomes one of the major problems with Crossan's
      model. First of all, as Gordon points out, this helps to account for some
      of the nature miracles. I am not entirely satisfied that its precise role
      has been established. I suspect that the model played a role in the
      stories prior to them reaching the evangelists. In fact I think that Jesus
      on purpose played on this model. In this respect I still assume that the
      miracle stories are popular entities rather than scribal constructs. As
      such I don't know that I find the Midrash perspective very useful.

      Thank you Gordon for your contribution I think there is both common ground
      and some differences. BTW what is FWIW.

      <I don't think Jesus' social acts were as simple as teaching mercy/taking
      care of the blind, as you put it; but ignoring or deliberately crossing
      social/religious boundaries to touch, include, draw into his community
      those on the outside. Or even simply to gather folks, who might not
      normally eat together, to share food at someone's table. And those kinds
      of acts were profoundly healing acts, precipitating stories or at least
      the claim that Jesus did deeds of power not unlike Elijah or Elisha.>

      Why? How? I think we are getting to bunked down into the cultural context
      so that we are ignoring the more universal aspects. Why do people tell
      miracle stories in general? There are tons of popular lore in newly
      emerged religious communities that are in nature no different than the
      what we find in the gospels.

      <That I don't agree with, neither that a parable must always be
      one-pointed, not that the healing stories had to be.>

      There are multiplicity and singleness in both. But let us not stray to
      much from the central theme. :-)

      <If they had one point, I'd say it was: "Jesus is a doer of "deeds of
      power", and as Gordon suggests, if the narrative echoes of Elijah help to
      make the point, so much the better.>

      Actually I would say that faced with these two options I would rather
      think that the central point was that "Jesus is a figure like
      Elijah-Elisha.

      <What's "aretological narrative"???>

      "arete" means "powerful acts". Werner Kelber uses the expression in The
      Oral and the Written Gospel.

      Bob makes an excellent point the problems of modern readings of miracles
      in ancient stories (and perhaps in the present). Also a very apt
      observation about current attitudes in the medical community.

      <
      >Can you give an example of what kind of explanation you would >accept,
      taking into account authorial intent?

      I'd like to know, too.>

      Well, I think that this Elijah-Elisha business is a good place to start.

      <Does the silent response to my occasional suggestions about Davies' Jesus
      the Healer mean that we have lost almost everyone who has read it? In the
      first months of the original CrossTalk, we had a prolonged and rather
      vigorous discussion of that book that went on for months. I don't mean to
      suggest that I agree with everything he says. But I do have a tendency to
      think that those who have not read it are not really very well equipped to
      discuss the healing miracles.>

      Perhaps. I read a rather extensive summary on Davies' home-page (if I
      recall correctly) some time ago. I found it interesting, though I too did
      not agree with all his propositions. Perhaps I should reread it or even
      get hold of the real thing.

      Regards,

      Daniel
    • David C. Hindley
      Bob, You said I think it is a mistake to conceive of the healing miracles as some kind of magic.
      Message 2 of 30 , Feb 3, 2001
        Bob,

        You said >>I think it is a mistake to conceive of the healing miracles
        as some kind of magic.<< Yet earlier in your post you quoted Matt
        8:8-9

        >>8 The centurion answered, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come
        under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed.
        9 For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I
        say to one, 'Go,' and he goes, and to another, 'Come,' and he comes,
        and to my slave, 'Do this,' and the slave does it."<<

        This is a classic picture of 1st century beliefs on the subject of
        angelology/demonology. Angels (and demons) are organized in strict
        military hierarchies. Individual angels/demons may have unique
        "personalities" or tasks assigned to them, but they all obey commands
        from superiors. In magic, authenticity is usually verified by a
        password or seal although an authoritative command may suffice.

        The point I am going after is this: Interpreting Mat 8:8 as a "social
        act" seems to be a 20th century rationalization (interpretation, if
        you wish) rather than a 1st century understanding of the context of
        that pericope. I think that the story itself (not necessarily how it
        was employed by the author of GMatthew, although he may be working
        with an existing tradition) implies that Jesus had authority over the
        angel/demon (in reality, there was not much difference between them)
        that caused the illness of the Centurion's servant. His "faith" was
        effectively trust that Jesus had such authority, just as an army
        officer has over his men or a slaveowner has over his slave(s).

        You mention Stevan Davies _Jesus the Healer_. Like Daniel, I have only
        encountered the web page synopsis at
        http://www.miseri.edu/users/davies/thomas/summaryone.htm, but I too am
        not convinced by his reasoning. He is critical of >>the prevailing
        view [i.e., which he calls the "Jesus the Teacher" model] that one
        should approach the question of the historical Jesus by analyzing what
        we can know of what he said so as to discover his message and
        ideology<<, and concludes with the statement >>I do not think it has
        succeeded very well.<<

        Yet in the same paragraph he says >>The very multiplicity of ...
        [interpretive] constructions and their generally equivalent competence
        in making use of the same body of evidence indicates to me that the
        view that Jesus should be understood principally to have been a
        teacher is a flawed paradigm.<< Does this not imply that there is
        something about Jesus' sayings that may not reflect Jesus' actual
        teachings? I do not think he is implying that we can never know a
        person's opinion/position on matters on the basis of statements
        attributed to him. That depends on whether the statements are
        authentic as well as accurate.

        Unfortunately, rather than investigate the question of the
        authenticity (and hence accuracy) of the statements (in other words,
        where are they on a scale in which Jesus' actual words are at one
        extreme and words attributed to Jesus in order to publicize the
        theological tendency of the gospel writer at the other), Davies
        changes the focus to look at Jesus as "an embodiment of the spirit of
        God" who realizes eschatological expectations by means of social acts.
        The problem of the authenticity of the gospel accounts of Jesus
        sayings/actions, and how this effects our ability to reconstruct his
        own agenda, is still there.

        If this is the real issue, then Davies' solution suffers from the same
        defect as those who adhere to the "Jesus as Teacher" paradigm. Both
        paradigms will tell us more about the agendas of the authors of the
        gospels (through the manner they chose to depict him) that they will
        about Jesus' personal agenda.

        Regards,

        Dave Hindley
        Cleveland, Ohio, USA
      • Bob Schacht
        ... David, This is a good point with regard to this particular pericope. It is all the better because it fits in with Matthew s editorial tendencies (see,
        Message 3 of 30 , Feb 3, 2001
          At 11:34 AM 2/3/01 -0500, David C. Hindley wrote:
          >Bob,
          >
          >You said >>I think it is a mistake to conceive of the healing miracles
          >as some kind of magic.<< Yet earlier in your post you quoted Matt
          >8:8-9
          >
          > >>8 The centurion answered, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come
          >under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed.
          >9 For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I
          >say to one, 'Go,' and he goes, and to another, 'Come,' and he comes,
          >and to my slave, 'Do this,' and the slave does it."<<
          >
          >This is a classic picture of 1st century beliefs on the subject of
          >angelology/demonology. Angels (and demons) are organized in strict
          >military hierarchies. Individual angels/demons may have unique
          >"personalities" or tasks assigned to them, but they all obey commands
          >from superiors.

          David,
          This is a good point with regard to this particular pericope. It is all the
          better because it fits in with Matthew's editorial tendencies (see, e.g.,
          Mt. 12:24-27). Therefore in this case, the incident is colored by Matthew's
          magical editorial interpretation. It was not a good example for my case.

          >...You mention Stevan Davies _Jesus the Healer_. Like Daniel, I have only
          >encountered the web page synopsis at
          ><http://www.miseri.edu/users/davies/thomas/summaryone.htm,>http://www.miser
          >i.edu/users/davies/thomas/summaryone.htm, but I too am
          >not convinced by his reasoning. He is critical of >>the prevailing
          >view [i.e., which he calls the "Jesus the Teacher" model] that one
          >should approach the question of the historical Jesus by analyzing what
          >we can know of what he said so as to discover his message and
          >ideology<<, and concludes with the statement >>I do not think it has
          >succeeded very well.<<
          >
          >Yet in the same paragraph he says >>The very multiplicity of ...
          >[interpretive] constructions and their generally equivalent competence
          >in making use of the same body of evidence indicates to me that the
          >view that Jesus should be understood principally to have been a
          >teacher is a flawed paradigm.<< Does this not imply that there is
          >something about Jesus' sayings that may not reflect Jesus' actual
          >teachings?

          That is one solution. The alternative is Davies' solution, that Jesus was
          not *primarily* a teacher.
          I have some quibbles with Stevan myself about this, but I think your
          "question" has problems of its own.

          >I do not think he is implying that we can never know a
          >person's opinion/position on matters on the basis of statements
          >attributed to him. That depends on whether the statements are
          >authentic as well as accurate.

          I agree.

          >Unfortunately, rather than investigate the question of the
          >authenticity (and hence accuracy) of the statements ..., Davies
          >changes the focus to look at Jesus as "an embodiment of the spirit of
          >God" who realizes eschatological expectations by means of social acts.
          >The problem of the authenticity of the gospel accounts of Jesus
          >sayings/actions, and how this effects our ability to reconstruct his
          >own agenda, is still there.

          It is a different problem from the sayings/teachings, however, because the
          healing incidents seldom involve any significant speech. In the Acts of
          Jesus, the Jesus Seminar comes to a number of conclusions in this regard:
          1. Jesus drove out what were thought to be demons (p.61, 171)
          2. Jesus cured some sick people (p.171)

          This thread suggests a little research project that would address your
          concerns: Using The Acts of Jesus and a tabulation of the healing miracles,
          which types of healing miracles does the JSem consider most reliable?

          >If this is the real issue, then Davies' solution suffers from the same
          >defect as those who adhere to the "Jesus as Teacher" paradigm. Both
          >paradigms will tell us more about the agendas of the authors of the
          >gospels (through the manner they chose to depict him) that they will
          >about Jesus' personal agenda.

          I don't think so. The "teachings" and the "healings" form two different
          types of literary evidence.
          Besides, my point was not necessarily that Davies interpretation of the
          healing miracles is correct, but that if one wants to consider the role of
          Jesus as healer seriously, then one needs to become familiar with the kind
          of evidence that he compiles, rather than merely conducting thought
          experiments based on our own preconceptions of healing.

          Bob


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Gil Page
          ... My own recollection of reading Mr. Davies book is that there is considerably more there than another failed paradigm. I would hope that you would read the
          Message 4 of 30 , Feb 4, 2001
            on 2/3/01 11:34 AM, David C. Hindley at dhindley@... wrote:


            > You mention Stevan Davies _Jesus the Healer_. Like Daniel, I have only
            > encountered the web page synopsis at
            > http://www.miseri.edu/users/davies/thomas/summaryone.htm, but I too am
            > not convinced by his reasoning. . . .

            > If this is the real issue, then Davies' solution suffers from the same
            > defect as those who adhere to the "Jesus as Teacher" paradigm. Both
            > paradigms will tell us more about the agendas of the authors of the
            > gospels (through the manner they chose to depict him) that they will
            > about Jesus' personal agenda.

            My own recollection of reading Mr. Davies' book is that there is
            considerably more there than another failed paradigm. I would hope that you
            would read the book before taking the author to task for not meeting your
            expectations of what you think his argument should be.
            --
            Regards,

            Gil Page
            kestrel@...
          • David C. Hindley
            ... considerably more there than another failed paradigm. I would hope that you would read the book before taking the author to task for not meeting your
            Message 5 of 30 , Feb 4, 2001
              Gil Page said:

              >>My own recollection of reading Mr. Davies' book is that there is
              considerably more there than another failed paradigm. I would hope
              that you would read the book before taking the author to task for not
              meeting your expectations of what you think his argument should be.<<

              Please do not think that it was my intention to "take to task" Prof.
              Davies. His case may be as well developed as the "Jesus as Teacher"
              model, maybe even more so. However, my feeling is that the "Jesus as
              Healer" model will (or has?) result in the same inconsistent results
              as the Jesus as Teacher model, as it appears to me to not really be a
              model at all but a conclusion to which the stories can be more or less
              successfully reconciled. I went by the author's own synopsis of the
              theme of his book and not just a review, so I sincerely hope it fairly
              represented his own argument.

              That opinion of mine does not mean I will not read it at some point in
              time. It may prove to be very illuminating in spite of what I think of
              the central premise, in that I may well gain valuable insight as to
              what gospel writers thought Jesus did (or wanted to believe he did, or
              wanted readers to think he did).

              Regards,

              Dave Hindley
              Cleveland, Ohio, USA
            • Sukie Curtis
              Bob, Gordon, Daniel, and others, My silence has been due to busy-ness, not disinterest, and even now I have only a sliver of time. But I ve enjoyed catching
              Message 6 of 30 , Feb 4, 2001
                Bob, Gordon, Daniel, and others,

                My silence has been due to busy-ness, not disinterest, and even now I have
                only a sliver of time. But I've enjoyed catching up on parts of this
                thread.

                Daniel wrote:
                > BTW what is FWIW.
                >

                "For what it's worth!"

                Daniel, citing me:

                > And those kinds
                > of acts were profoundly healing acts, precipitating stories or at least
                > the claim that Jesus did deeds of power not unlike Elijah or Elisha.>
                >
                > Why? How? I think we are getting to bunked down into the cultural context
                > so that we are ignoring the more universal aspects. Why do people tell
                > miracle stories in general? There are tons of popular lore in newly
                > emerged religious communities that are in nature no different than the
                > what we find in the gospels.

                I don't know why people tell miracle stories "in general." And I think
                staying close to the biblical tradition of miracle stories makes more sense
                here than wandering into general miracle world. I'm sure there are plenty
                of stories in "newly emerged" traditions, but for stories/literature
                emerging from an existing religious tradition, even if from a newly-emerging
                sub-set, appeals to traditional models/types make very good sense, don't
                they?

                >
                > Actually I would say that faced with these two options I would rather
                > think that the central point was that "Jesus is a figure like
                > Elijah-Elisha."

                I'm happy with that.

                Thanks again.

                Sukie Curtis
                Cumberland Foreside, Maine
              • Daniel Grolin
                Dear Sukie, Thank you for emerging shortly to reply:
                Message 7 of 30 , Feb 5, 2001
                  Dear Sukie,

                  Thank you for emerging shortly to reply:

                  <I don't know why people tell miracle stories "in general." And I think
                  staying close to the biblical tradition of miracle stories makes more
                  sense here than wandering into general miracle world.>

                  The problem is that we are so distant from the setting and the people that
                  told (or, as Gordon would have it, constructed) these stories that we are
                  very hard pressed for the details necessary to develop an explanatory
                  model. Looking at contemporary cases presents the best way of developing
                  solid models.

                  < I'm sure there are plenty of stories in "newly emerged" traditions, but
                  for stories/literature emerging from an existing religious tradition, even
                  if from a newly-emerging sub-set, appeals to traditional models/types make
                  very good sense, don't they?>

                  Yes, it does. Now we need more specifics.

                  Regards,

                  Daniel
                • Karel Hanhart
                  ... Dear Sukie and Gordon, In the span of a week some 13 exegetes contributed to the topic of healings and exorcisms in the Gospel. It demonstrates its
                  Message 8 of 30 , Feb 13, 2001
                    Sukie Curtis wrote:

                    > Welcome, Gordon! This is response is to both Gordon and Daniel.

                    Dear Sukie and Gordon,

                    In the span of a week some 13 exegetes contributed to the topic of healings and
                    exorcisms in the Gospel. It demonstrates its importance for the interpretation.
                    Perhaps Paul van Buren's remark that with the Gospel we are reading "someone
                    else's mail" should be emphasized even more strongly. These miracle stories are
                    told and read by people grounded in the Hebrew Scriptures that ruled their
                    lives.
                    I quite agree with Gordon that by distinguishing between nature wonders and
                    healing wonders one circumvents the problem of authorial intent. The authors
                    never warn the reader, for instance, that the healing of a leper should be
                    taken literally and the rebuke of the storm wind and the commanding the sea,
                    "Peace. Be still" be taken metaphorically. Every stupendous and contra-natural
                    event is described as if it were self evident: a matter of course. Doesn't that
                    indicate that all 'miracles' should be taken metaphorically while still grounded
                    in history? The Gospels were written primarily for first century Jews (I name
                    them Christians Judeans - ioudaioi; I believe that in exegesis one should
                    choose an idiom matching the contemporary situation as much as possible). They
                    were also written for baptized Gentiles or so-called Godfearers to meet their
                    needs and thus reflect their historical circumstances. So may I offer some
                    belated remarks?

                    > >(Daniel) I think the definition that Crossan uses for miracle is excellent.
                    > Now I
                    > > want to emphasis that when I use the term miracle in historical discourse
                    > > I am not the one who perceives the transcendental, but I do point out that
                    > > the source does have this perspective.
                    >
                    > Yes, I see that. But I also see that a modern historian might reasonably
                    > have two or three legitimate areas of exploration: 1) determining the
                    > perspective of the source, 2) using social science/cross-cultural
                    > anthropology, etc. to best reconstruct what the healing processes might have
                    > included in that kind of setting (i.e., knowing Jesus hadn't been to med
                    > school),

                    I am in support of 1), but I wonder about "the med. school" in 2). For using the
                    latter phrase
                    one appears to assume that such stories deal with actual physical changes
                    witnessed by the bystanders as amazing, contra-natural healings considered to be
                    supernatural. Should the
                    historical grounding really be based on a literal, stupendous healing that
                    defied the laws of nature?
                    Would the author in that case have described them in such a brief, matter of
                    fact way on a par with walking on water?
                    I quite agree with Gordon that by distinguishing between nature wonders and
                    healing wonders one circumvents the problem of authorial intent. The authors
                    never warn the reader that healing a leper
                    (did the sores disappear forthwith?) should be taken literally and rebuking the
                    storm wind and commanding the sea, "Peace. Be still" metaphorically. Every
                    stupendous and contra-natural event occurs in the Gospel as being self-evident:
                    a matter of course. This is true for a "very large stone" that was rolled away
                    from a monumental tomb without human hands as for a lame man whom Jesus got back
                    on his feet again.
                    Most of us are more or less strangers to non-christian Jewish studies but
                    many of us would readily agree, I think, that these riddlesome miracle stories
                    could best be explained through midrash. For the Gospel writers indeed "went to
                    the Hebrew Scriptures". I would also subscribe to Crossan's definition: "a
                    miracle is a marvel that someone interprets as a transcendental action or
                    manifestation". It is a social act (in its widest sense) attributed to divine
                    power. That holds true for the so called impossible deed of Jesus' crossing the
                    ":sea" (note that Mark doesn't use the Gr limne = lake) One should ask,
                    therefore, to what Scripture this midrash refers. Gordon suggests Gen. 1, but
                    why not the 'crossing of the sea of reeds? What is the historical context of the
                    story?
                    I would suggest that first of all we approach these riddlesome stories
                    through 'controlled mudrash'. The exegesis should pass the controls of source-
                    and redaction criticism and of rhetorical analysis and of the other hermeneutic
                    disciplines. For instance, the exegesis of crossing the sea into Gentile
                    territory should reflect, I think, the post-70 circumstances of the adressees.
                    The crossing of the sea story is embedded in the structure of Mark's entire
                    Gospel beginning with preparing the way of Adonay and ending with going ahead
                    into the Galil (ha-goyim). It is a Passover haggadah.
                    Because of the fall of Jerusalem and the subsequent, complete Roman domination
                    of their homeland, the story would assure the reader in the ecclesia, I think,
                    that Jesus Messiah is able to be with them in the Spirit even though he too had
                    to succumb to a brutal death by the Romans. Thus the Way of Adonay will continue
                    although secular reality gave the appearance of having created an impassable
                    barrier for such a belief. Thus faith in the resurrection is expressed by means
                    of a vivid narrative. It is grounded in history for it reflects the historical
                    situation of the author and his addressees Walking on a stormy sea into Gentile
                    territory and there healing a demon possessed soldier named Legion has become
                    the model for the ecclesia that has just read the Exodus story.
                    By using the Gr thalassa the author thus retrojects the post-30
                    experiences of the early Christians into the lifetime of Jesus and his
                    disciples. The story has thus a double layer - one referring to Jesus' own
                    teachings and acts around Lake Kinneret [Sea of Galilee] and the teachings and
                    acts of his followers in the diaspora around the Mediterranean Sea. They also
                    were called to exorcise evil spirits. Would not the storm be a metaphor for the
                    turbulent historical circumstances, that these first readers went through. One
                    could paint the scene with two huge fires in the background.. In the winter of
                    64-65 a great fire devastated large sections of the city of Rome. The crazy
                    caesar Nero found the sect of the Christians guilty, as a kind of scapegoat.
                    They were bitterly persecuted. If indeed John Mark had been in Rome at the time
                    that event. it must have colored his message. The second fire was the burning
                    down of the temple in Jerusalem, centre of learning, culture, and religion. And
                    this would have been foremost in his mind. Was perhaps the great appeal, which
                    the Gospel apparently had among Judeans and non-Judeans as well, due to the
                    longing of many for a humane society and was this longing perhaps grounded in
                    their faith in divine justice and mercy?.
                    The crossing of the "sea" story would on the one hand reflect the divine
                    salvation (a narrow escape from death) of the Exodus story, the addresses had
                    read paired with the sure promise of the divine presence in their own future.
                    This interpretation would match the story of "Legio", a Graecised Latin word
                    for a Roman legion, (which incidentally had their camp in the Decapolis ) and
                    the story of the daughter of Jaïrus on this side of "the sea". Read as midrash,
                    the name Jaïrus in the latter subsequent story refers the reader to Yaïr of
                    ancient days, one of the lesser known judges. The "villages of Yaïr" (f.i. 1 Ki
                    4,13) were situated in the region West of Lake Kinneret, as the map of ancient
                    geography tells us. The towns were actually called the "villages of Yaïr" and
                    that name would be familiar to any Judean from the area, just as in our days
                    local people take pride in one of their heroes of the past. The towns were the
                    Judean counterparts of the Hellenic Dekapolis.

                    > and 3) reconstructing the path of the narrative's creation, as
                    > Gordon has done with his imagining the use of Hebrew scriptures, Elijah,
                    > Elisha, etc. in the shape and contours of the stories of Jesus' healings. I
                    > imagine something like that process Gordon describes to be at work in at
                    > least some of the stories and perhaps generally so in all of them. I don't
                    > imagine oral stories (if by that you mean oral reports of this or that
                    > healing springing from an actual event) being behind the stories we have.
                    > But reflecting patterns of "typical healings" I'm more willing to imagine
                    > than Gordon.

                    Were not - what you call - "typical healings" in reality haggadot illustrating
                    prophecies such as in
                    Isa 42,18; 43,8; 61,1?

                    > > <If social acts can be in some way (and most likely more so than we're apt
                    > > to think) healing, esp. of illness and sickness with a social dimension,
                    > > and if social acts were probably a significant part of Jesus' activity,
                    > > why wouldn't there be a connection between those social acts and healing
                    > > stories?>
                    > >
                    > > I guess what I am missing is a well-monitored example in which we see how
                    > > a specific social act (or specific set of social acts) is recounted as a
                    > > miracle story. What I am looking for is something analogous to what Esler
                    > > does with speaking in tongues in "The First Christians in their Social
                    > > Worlds" combined with some oral transmission theory that again has some
                    > > empirical studies behind it. What makes a person who sees social action
                    > > tell miracle stories? If someone is afflicted with, say, blindness, and
                    > > Jesus' teaching of mercy requires the Christian community to take care of
                    > > blind (thus socially alleviating the illness) does the community start
                    > > telling stories in which the blind becomes seeing? Mark's story about
                    > > Bartimaeus is an example of a synthesis of both social aspect and powerful
                    > > act.

                    The Judean background of these stories (haggadot) could be illustrated with the
                    story of
                    Bartimaeus. I found the key to the story in the name itself. "Timaios" is not a
                    Hebrew, but a Greek name; and Mark's readers, by now used to his ironic style,
                    must have registered a signal by the author because this Greek name is prefaced
                    by the Aramaic "bar-". Moreover, every intelligent Roman citizen would be
                    familiar with Timaios, the title of one of Platos's major works. It is well
                    known that Jews like to play with names. So also in the Gospel as in Saul-Paul -
                    Cephas-Peter etc Thus the starting point for exegesis (its historical
                    grounding) might well be that to Mark certain Judeans, seeking their salvation
                    in vain in Greek philosophy, should learn to go the way of the cross. Bartimaeus
                    is said to have "followed Jesus on the way" {to the cross}.
                    Incidentally, I was struck by the fact that a colleague, the late Bas van
                    Iersel, had independently come to the same conclusion about the odd name of
                    Bartimaeus. A hypothesis is strengthened by a coincidence of that kind.
                    Now the daughter of Jaïrus/Yaïr and bar-Timaeus are the only named persons
                    'healed' by Jesus. That personal touch made me think for a long time that some
                    kind of physical healing must have been at the historical bottom of the story.
                    Midrash taught me otherwise. These very names, that make the story so vivid and
                    concrete, turn out to be metaphors for a different historical situation which
                    Mark sought to describe in which the Gospel proved to become a 'redeeming'
                    factor, a dunamis that altered their lives.
                    One last remark. Jesus was not, I think, an exorcist in the dictionary sense of
                    the word.
                    Mark clearly distinguishes between unclean spirits and demons. He is
                    distinguishing, I think,
                    between a 'not kosher' way of life causing an unhealthy spirit, not in accord
                    with the Torah. and
                    a phenomenon in Greek culture that in some sense might be equivalent to the
                    biblical
                    unclean spirit , namely daimon. One notices his continual battle with words
                    trying to find
                    a Greek equivalent for expressions in the Hebrew Bible. But the most significant
                    aspect
                    of the exorcist stories is the fact that Mark defines them as "a teaching":
                    "They were all amazed...
                    "What is this? A new teaching!" (1,28). He is making clear that he isn't trying
                    to portray Jesus as an
                    exorcist but is choosing that vocabulary to illustrate the effect of Jesus'
                    teaching.

                    yours cordially,

                    Karel Hanhart K.Hanhart@...

                    >

                    >
                    >
                    > The healing of the leper in Mk. 1 seems to me a good example of a "social
                    > act," that is, touching a not-to-be-touched leper, that effects healing.
                    > It's even more clearly a socio/religio/political act, as there's the
                    > suggestion of a sign against the priests (that this healing happened apart
                    > from them). I don't think Jesus' social acts were as simple as teaching
                    > mercy/taking care of the blind, as you put it; but ignoring or deliberately
                    > crossing social/religious boundaries to touch, include, draw into his
                    > community those on the outside. Or even simply to gather folks, who might
                    > not normally eat together, to share food at someone's table. And those
                    > kinds of acts were profoundly healing acts, precipitating stories or at
                    > least the claim that Jesus did deeds of power not unlike Elijah or Elisha.
                    >
                    > > Except that what I see the evangelist doing is to allegorise the
                    > > stories. The point of the stories in their oral stage must (like
                    > > parables) be one pointed. The point is "Jesus can help you out of your
                    > > current distress".
                    >
                    > That I don't agree with, neither that a parable must always be one-pointed,
                    > not that the healing stories had to be. If they had one point, I'd say it
                    > was: "Jesus is a doer of "deeds of power", and as Gordon suggests, if the
                    > narrative echoes of Elijah help to make the point, so much the better.
                    > [much snipped]
                    >
                    > >
                    > > <"Dunamis" does not ONLY mean miracle, but much more frequently means
                    > > simply "power," does it not?>
                    > >
                    > > I don't know that it is used "much more" as meaning power (I actually
                    > > think less, but I haven't checked), however, "power" is certainly within
                    > > its semantic field.
                    >
                    > Well, the concordance I have at home (Young's, keyed to the KJV) lists
                    > dunamis used 77 times in the NT (about 25 in the synoptics and Acts) as
                    > "power" and only 7 or 8 as "miracle" and another 7 or 8 as "mighty work>"
                    >
                    > [snipped]
                    > >
                    > > Yes I would. I don't think aretological narrative is the best genre to
                    > > convey Jesus' social activity.
                    > >
                    > What's "aretological narrative"???
                    >
                    > Sukie Curtis
                    > Cumberland Foreside, Maine
                    >
                    >
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                  • tomkirbel@aol.com.au
                    I found Karel Hanhart s treatment of the walking on water, the healing of Jairus daughter and the healing of Bartimaus very interesting. On closer
                    Message 9 of 30 , Feb 14, 2001
                      I found Karel Hanhart's treatment of the walking on water, the healing of
                      Jairus' daughter and the healing of Bartimaus very interesting. On closer
                      examination, however, I think they illustrate exactly the problems I have
                      with "midrash" interpretations in general, and lack of methodological
                      transparency in particular. I hope a brief discussion of why I think this is
                      so can help illustrate my point. Very briefly, my problem with the treatment
                      of the Jairus and Bartimaus stories is that the refferences are too obscure
                      for the treatment to be convincing. On the assumption that "Mark" intended
                      to be understood in "creating" these stories, refferences ought to be easily
                      understandible for his intended audience. The Jairus/villages of Jair
                      refference is unlikely to have been understood outside of Galilee even if
                      Karel's otherwise unsubtantiated speculation that that designation of the
                      villages surrounding Gallilee was used in the 1st century is correct.
                      Likewise, the refference to Plato's dialogue from Bartimaus is too obscure.
                      If "Mark" was inventing a name, why choose the name of that dialogue? Why
                      not some other dialogue, or better yet, some philosopher? Had the blindness
                      of Barsocrates been healed, the exegesis would have been far clearer, both in
                      "Mark"s time and in ours.

                      This does not mean Karel's exigesis is wrong, only that as it stands it is ad
                      hoc and unsubstantiated. The exigesis will remain ad hoc unless Karel can
                      show us evidence of 1st century geographical refferences to the villages of
                      Jair, or patristic commentaries drawing the allegorical interpretation
                      regarding the following of greek philosophy that Karel finds in the Bartimaus
                      story (indirect evidence that "Mark"s intended interpretation was understood
                      in his time), or other related evidence. Until that time, the naive
                      interpretation of these two passages would remain the simplest of the two,
                      and therefore the preffered interpretation on general methodological grounds.

                      Turning to the walking on water, Karel's interpretation is (I think) better
                      subsantiated than Gordon's. At least it has some slight extended parallels
                      in that both Jesus' and Moses' crossing the of the sea are preceded by meals,
                      and both are succeded by an authoritative giving of/ interpretation of the
                      law. But this is the extent of the parallels (that I can determine in
                      english translation). If "Mark" was making a midrash on that theme we would
                      expect the theme to be more thoroughly interwoven into the related passages.
                      Stronger parrallels between passover and the feeding of the five thousand
                      would be drawn (perhaps by a meal of loaves and roast lamb?). The law theme
                      would have been more dominant in uncleaness dispute. Further lexical
                      parralells would also be in evidence (and may be in the original languages
                      for all I know). We would also have expected "Matthew", surely amongst
                      "Marks" intended audience, to have picked up the theme and more appropriatly
                      located the pericope given his known organisational principles.

                      The point of all this is that in this story the midrashic interpretation is
                      again ad hoc. It is not predicted by general theoretical considerations, and
                      generates no new predictions about editorial or lexical features of the text.
                      All that it "explains" are the slight parrallels that suggested the
                      hypothesis in the first place. So again, the naive interpretation, because
                      simpler, is better supported by the textual evidence.

                      In contrast, the story of Jesus calming the sea seems on textual evidence to
                      be a "midrash". The close parrallels between "Mark"s account of this
                      incident and the equivalent story in Jonah are remarkable. The naive
                      interpretation (that the events happened as described, and that "Mark"
                      recorded them without refference to the Jonah story) is in consequence a
                      non-starter because it fails to explain the close parrallels in the accounts.
                      Three other theories might be considered: that the events happened
                      approximatly as recorded and "Mark" relied on Jonah to help structure his
                      story; that the events happened approximately as described, but that Jesus
                      told the disciples (not the waves) to calm down, with the sea calming shortly
                      after by conincidence, and the event was retold as recorded because of
                      exaggeration and the use of Jonah to flesh out details; or no such event
                      happened, but "Mark" (or source) invented the story based on Jonah to tell a
                      theological point.

                      Of these three theories I think the last is better supported by textual
                      evidence. This is primarily (again) on the basis of simplicity because it
                      posits one source (Jonah) whilst the other two posit two sources (an event
                      and Jonah). If we accept the third theory, however, we should incline
                      against the view that "Mark" invented the story. Expected parrallels in
                      bracketing stories do not exist. This suggests that "Mark" found the
                      pericope as an intact story from an earlier period (AD 50-60?). This, in
                      turn, given that Jesus fills the roles of both Jonah and of God in this
                      pericope has interesting implications on the development on christology.

                      None of the three theories is contradicted by, or unreasonable in the face
                      of, the textual evidence in this pericope, so any might be preffered for
                      reasons beyond that textual evidence. We ought, however, to distinguish
                      between the immediate evidence and the more general considerations that
                      persuade us so that those who disagree with us on those more general
                      considerations can still find our research in the particular case usefull.

                      Regards,

                      Tom Curtis



                      In a message dated 2/14/01 11:13:32 E. Australia Standard Time,
                      K.Hanhart@... writes:

                      << Sukie Curtis wrote:

                      > Welcome, Gordon! This is response is to both Gordon and Daniel.

                      Dear Sukie and Gordon,

                      In the span of a week some 13 exegetes contributed to the topic of healings
                      and
                      exorcisms in the Gospel. It demonstrates its importance for the
                      interpretation.
                      Perhaps Paul van Buren's remark that with the Gospel we are reading "someone
                      else's mail" should be emphasized even more strongly. These miracle stories
                      are
                      told and read by people grounded in the Hebrew Scriptures that ruled their
                      lives.
                      I quite agree with Gordon that by distinguishing between nature wonders
                      and
                      healing wonders one circumvents the problem of authorial intent. The authors
                      never warn the reader, for instance, that the healing of a leper should be
                      taken literally and the rebuke of the storm wind and the commanding the sea,
                      "Peace. Be still" be taken metaphorically. Every stupendous and
                      contra-natural
                      event is described as if it were self evident: a matter of course. Doesn't
                      that
                      indicate that all 'miracles' should be taken metaphorically while still
                      grounded
                      in history? The Gospels were written primarily for first century Jews (I
                      name
                      them Christians Judeans - ioudaioi; I believe that in exegesis one should
                      choose an idiom matching the contemporary situation as much as possible).
                      They
                      were also written for baptized Gentiles or so-called Godfearers to meet their
                      needs and thus reflect their historical circumstances. So may I offer some
                      belated remarks?

                      > >(Daniel) I think the definition that Crossan uses for miracle is
                      excellent.
                      > Now I
                      > > want to emphasis that when I use the term miracle in historical discourse
                      > > I am not the one who perceives the transcendental, but I do point out
                      that
                      > > the source does have this perspective.
                      >
                      > Yes, I see that. But I also see that a modern historian might reasonably
                      > have two or three legitimate areas of exploration: 1) determining the
                      > perspective of the source, 2) using social science/cross-cultural
                      > anthropology, etc. to best reconstruct what the healing processes might
                      have
                      > included in that kind of setting (i.e., knowing Jesus hadn't been to med
                      > school),

                      I am in support of 1), but I wonder about "the med. school" in 2). For using
                      the
                      latter phrase
                      one appears to assume that such stories deal with actual physical changes
                      witnessed by the bystanders as amazing, contra-natural healings considered
                      to be
                      supernatural. Should the
                      historical grounding really be based on a literal, stupendous healing that
                      defied the laws of nature?
                      Would the author in that case have described them in such a brief, matter of
                      fact way on a par with walking on water?
                      I quite agree with Gordon that by distinguishing between nature wonders and
                      healing wonders one circumvents the problem of authorial intent. The authors
                      never warn the reader that healing a leper
                      (did the sores disappear forthwith?) should be taken literally and rebuking
                      the
                      storm wind and commanding the sea, "Peace. Be still" metaphorically. Every
                      stupendous and contra-natural event occurs in the Gospel as being
                      self-evident:
                      a matter of course. This is true for a "very large stone" that was rolled
                      away
                      from a monumental tomb without human hands as for a lame man whom Jesus got
                      back
                      on his feet again.
                      Most of us are more or less strangers to non-christian Jewish studies but
                      many of us would readily agree, I think, that these riddlesome miracle
                      stories
                      could best be explained through midrash. For the Gospel writers indeed "went
                      to
                      the Hebrew Scriptures". I would also subscribe to Crossan's definition: "a
                      miracle is a marvel that someone interprets as a transcendental action or
                      manifestation". It is a social act (in its widest sense) attributed to divine
                      power. That holds true for the so called impossible deed of Jesus' crossing
                      the
                      ":sea" (note that Mark doesn't use the Gr limne = lake) One should ask,
                      therefore, to what Scripture this midrash refers. Gordon suggests Gen. 1, but
                      why not the 'crossing of the sea of reeds? What is the historical context of
                      the
                      story?
                      I would suggest that first of all we approach these riddlesome stories
                      through 'controlled mudrash'. The exegesis should pass the controls of
                      source-
                      and redaction criticism and of rhetorical analysis and of the other
                      hermeneutic
                      disciplines. For instance, the exegesis of crossing the sea into Gentile
                      territory should reflect, I think, the post-70 circumstances of the
                      adressees.
                      The crossing of the sea story is embedded in the structure of Mark's entire
                      Gospel beginning with preparing the way of Adonay and ending with going
                      ahead
                      into the Galil (ha-goyim). It is a Passover haggadah.
                      Because of the fall of Jerusalem and the subsequent, complete Roman
                      domination
                      of their homeland, the story would assure the reader in the ecclesia, I
                      think,
                      that Jesus Messiah is able to be with them in the Spirit even though he too
                      had
                      to succumb to a brutal death by the Romans. Thus the Way of Adonay will
                      continue
                      although secular reality gave the appearance of having created an impassable
                      barrier for such a belief. Thus faith in the resurrection is expressed by
                      means
                      of a vivid narrative. It is grounded in history for it reflects the
                      historical
                      situation of the author and his addressees Walking on a stormy sea into
                      Gentile
                      territory and there healing a demon possessed soldier named Legion has become
                      the model for the ecclesia that has just read the Exodus story.
                      By using the Gr thalassa the author thus retrojects the post-30
                      experiences of the early Christians into the lifetime of Jesus and his
                      disciples. The story has thus a double layer - one referring to Jesus' own
                      teachings and acts around Lake Kinneret [Sea of Galilee] and the teachings
                      and
                      acts of his followers in the diaspora around the Mediterranean Sea. They also
                      were called to exorcise evil spirits. Would not the storm be a metaphor for
                      the
                      turbulent historical circumstances, that these first readers went through.
                      One
                      could paint the scene with two huge fires in the background.. In the winter
                      of
                      64-65 a great fire devastated large sections of the city of Rome. The crazy
                      caesar Nero found the sect of the Christians guilty, as a kind of scapegoat.
                      They were bitterly persecuted. If indeed John Mark had been in Rome at the
                      time
                      that event. it must have colored his message. The second fire was the burning
                      down of the temple in Jerusalem, centre of learning, culture, and religion.
                      And
                      this would have been foremost in his mind. Was perhaps the great appeal,
                      which
                      the Gospel apparently had among Judeans and non-Judeans as well, due to the
                      longing of many for a humane society and was this longing perhaps grounded in
                      their faith in divine justice and mercy?.
                      The crossing of the "sea" story would on the one hand reflect the divine
                      salvation (a narrow escape from death) of the Exodus story, the addresses had
                      read paired with the sure promise of the divine presence in their own
                      future.
                      This interpretation would match the story of "Legio", a Graecised Latin
                      word
                      for a Roman legion, (which incidentally had their camp in the Decapolis ) and
                      the story of the daughter of Jaïrus on this side of "the sea". Read as
                      midrash,
                      the name Jaïrus in the latter subsequent story refers the reader to Yaïr of
                      ancient days, one of the lesser known judges. The "villages of Yaïr" (f.i. 1
                      Ki
                      4,13) were situated in the region West of Lake Kinneret, as the map of
                      ancient
                      geography tells us. The towns were actually called the "villages of Yaïr" and
                      that name would be familiar to any Judean from the area, just as in our days
                      local people take pride in one of their heroes of the past. The towns were
                      the
                      Judean counterparts of the Hellenic Dekapolis.

                      > and 3) reconstructing the path of the narrative's creation, as
                      > Gordon has done with his imagining the use of Hebrew scriptures, Elijah,
                      > Elisha, etc. in the shape and contours of the stories of Jesus' healings.
                      I
                      > imagine something like that process Gordon describes to be at work in at
                      > least some of the stories and perhaps generally so in all of them. I don't
                      > imagine oral stories (if by that you mean oral reports of this or that
                      > healing springing from an actual event) being behind the stories we have.
                      > But reflecting patterns of "typical healings" I'm more willing to imagine
                      > than Gordon.

                      Were not - what you call - "typical healings" in reality haggadot
                      illustrating
                      prophecies such as in
                      Isa 42,18; 43,8; 61,1?

                      > > <If social acts can be in some way (and most likely more so than we're
                      apt
                      > > to think) healing, esp. of illness and sickness with a social dimension,
                      > > and if social acts were probably a significant part of Jesus' activity,
                      > > why wouldn't there be a connection between those social acts and healing
                      > > stories?>
                      > >
                      > > I guess what I am missing is a well-monitored example in which we see how
                      > > a specific social act (or specific set of social acts) is recounted as a
                      > > miracle story. What I am looking for is something analogous to what Esler
                      > > does with speaking in tongues in "The First Christians in their Social
                      > > Worlds" combined with some oral transmission theory that again has some
                      > > empirical studies behind it. What makes a person who sees social action
                      > > tell miracle stories? If someone is afflicted with, say, blindness, and
                      > > Jesus' teaching of mercy requires the Christian community to take care of
                      > > blind (thus socially alleviating the illness) does the community start
                      > > telling stories in which the blind becomes seeing? Mark's story about
                      > > Bartimaeus is an example of a synthesis of both social aspect and
                      powerful
                      > > act.

                      The Judean background of these stories (haggadot) could be illustrated with
                      the
                      story of
                      Bartimaeus. I found the key to the story in the name itself. "Timaios" is
                      not a
                      Hebrew, but a Greek name; and Mark's readers, by now used to his ironic
                      style,
                      must have registered a signal by the author because this Greek name is
                      prefaced
                      by the Aramaic "bar-". Moreover, every intelligent Roman citizen would be
                      familiar with Timaios, the title of one of Platos's major works. It is well
                      known that Jews like to play with names. So also in the Gospel as in
                      Saul-Paul -
                      Cephas-Peter etc Thus the starting point for exegesis (its historical
                      grounding) might well be that to Mark certain Judeans, seeking their
                      salvation
                      in vain in Greek philosophy, should learn to go the way of the cross.
                      Bartimaeus
                      is said to have "followed Jesus on the way" {to the cross}.
                      Incide
                    • Karel Hanhart
                      Dear Tom, Thank you for your reply. Let me preface your comments by stating that I recently joined X-talk but contributed to the L-Synoptic list. I referred
                      Message 10 of 30 , Feb 15, 2001
                        Dear Tom,

                        Thank you for your reply. Let me preface your comments by stating that I recently
                        joined
                        X-talk but contributed to the L-Synoptic list. I referred there to my study of
                        Mark, The Open Tomb - a New Approach. Mark's Passover Haggadah (± 72 CE),
                        Liturgical Press, Collegeville MN
                        USA. Re: my methodology I would refer you to that publication.

                        tomkirbel@... wrote:

                        > I found Karel Hanhart's treatment of the walking on water, the healing of
                        > Jairus' daughter and the healing of Bartimaus very interesting. On closer
                        > examination, however, I think they illustrate exactly the problems I have
                        > with "midrash" interpretations in general, and lack of methodological
                        > transparency in particular.

                        You are quite right. One must first study the phenomenon of midrash
                        in order to try to apply this kind of approach to Scripture. I also would
                        like to repeat that we should pursue "controlled midrash". The exegesis should
                        pass the controls of
                        source- and redaction criticism and of rhetorical analysis and of the other
                        hermeneutic methods to revover the original meaning in as far as that is possible.

                        > Very briefly, my problem with the treatment
                        > of the Jairus and Bartimaus stories is that the refferences are too obscure
                        > for the treatment to be convincing.

                        Why obscure? The religious, cultural and political situation of these small
                        Judean
                        towns and villages in the region with the biblical name "villages of Yaïr" was
                        precarious surrounded as they were by the Ten Cities in which Hellenic culture
                        where 'foreign' religions were practiced and enemy forces were encamped.

                        > On the assumption that "Mark" intended to be understood in "creating" these

                        > stories, refferences ought to be easily
                        > understandible for his intended audience.

                        It is my assumption that Mark did not write for the general public but for
                        the celebration of Pesach by the early Christians. The stories were read
                        for the worshipers, children and adults, the uneducated and the literate.
                        Like all the stories in Scriptures they were told in a vivid manner that children
                        could easily understand. But the local presbyter would be the person to
                        interpret the metaphors in the stories. Names like Jaïrus and Bartimaeus
                        signaled the educated reader to search for the deeper meaning of the
                        story.

                        The Jairus/villages of Jair

                        > refference is unlikely to have been understood outside of Galilee even if
                        > Karel's otherwise unsubtantiated speculation that that designation of the
                        > villages surrounding Gallilee was used in the 1st century is correct.

                        One rule I followed is that in midrash one searches first of all for a reference
                        to the
                        Hebrew Scripture that would apply to the text. In this case the "villages of Yaïr"

                        would fit the requirement of the name (Gr Iaïros) would match the Hebrew Yaïr
                        the two regions would match and a Roman legion was indeed located in the
                        Decapolis.

                        > Likewise, the refference to Plato's dialogue from Bartimaus is too obscure.
                        > If "Mark" was inventing a name, why choose the name of that dialogue?

                        The "Timaios" was a well known, much debated and authoritative work by Plato.
                        Both the author of Mark and at least some of his bi-lingual readers were educated
                        in the Greek language and in rhetoric. Plato's works were read and studied in
                        the grammar schools.

                        > Turning to the walking on water, Karel's interpretation is (I think) better
                        > subsantiated than Gordon's. At least it has some slight extended parallels
                        > in that both Jesus' and Moses' crossing the of the sea are preceded by meals,
                        > and both are succeded by an authoritative giving of/ interpretation of the
                        > law.

                        In your reply you do allow for midrashic references to Scripture; to the
                        Exodus story and to Jonah. I wonder if you still want differentiate between
                        healings with at its core should be taken literally and so-called nature
                        miracles which alone may .be interpreted as metaphors?.

                        > But this is the extent of the parallels (that I can determine in
                        > english translation). If "Mark" was making a midrash on that theme we would
                        > expect the theme to be more thoroughly interwoven into the related passages.
                        > Stronger parrallels between passover and the feeding of the five thousand
                        > would be drawn (perhaps by a meal of loaves and roast lamb?). The law theme
                        > would have been more dominant in uncleaness dispute. Further lexical
                        > parralells would also be in evidence (and may be in the original languages
                        > for all I know). We would also have expected "Matthew", surely amongst
                        > "Marks" intended audience, to have picked up the theme and more appropriatly
                        > located the pericope given his known organisational principles.
                        >
                        > The point of all this is that in this story the midrashic interpretation is
                        > again ad hoc. It is not predicted by general theoretical considerations, and
                        > generates no new predictions about editorial or lexical features of the text.
                        > All that it "explains" are the slight parrallels that suggested the
                        > hypothesis in the first place. So again, the naive interpretation, because
                        > simpler, is better supported by the textual evidence.

                        The stories appear naive because they were intended also and first of
                        all for the children in the congregation. As such they can still
                        validly be taught to children. Our problem is the interpretation and application
                        by adults.

                        I hope this has clarified my exegesis somewhat.

                        your
                        Karel K.Hanhart@...
                      • tomkirbel@aol.com.au
                        Karel, thankyou also for your reply. Obviously I am unable to make detailed comment on your theory until I have read your book (which unfortunatly I will not
                        Message 11 of 30 , Feb 15, 2001
                          Karel, thankyou also for your reply. Obviously I am unable to make detailed
                          comment on your theory until I have read your book (which unfortunatly I will
                          not be able to do in the near future). I commented on your interpretation
                          not to specificly criticise it, but to use it as an example of how I think
                          research ought to be done on methodological grounds. I did this as part of
                          my debate with Antonio Jerez. Though I reffered to your interpretations as
                          ad hoc, obviously I do not know without reading your book whether that is a
                          fair description.

                          For the record, I also do not think there are goood grounds in method for
                          treating healing and nature miracles distinctly. Given the possibility of
                          "psycho-somatic cures" there may be good ground in fact, but we should find
                          evidence of that in our sources without introducing it as a methodological
                          assumption. Of course, and this is the nub of my debate with Antonio, I
                          don't think we should exclude the possibility of miracles happening as a
                          methodological assumption. We should instead find the evidence in our
                          sources that they did not (or, if that is the case, that they did).

                          I am debating Antonio on this point because I think that using methodological
                          naturalism: 1) can result in a failure to properly test theories against
                          evidence; 2) alienates from the debate people who have a legitimate interest
                          in that debate; and 3) for those (such as myself) for whom theism is still a
                          live option, it precludes the evidence generated from being used as a test of
                          theism.

                          With regard to your theory, a test I would very like to see is the extent to
                          which your midrashes survive (as allegorical interpretations) in commentaries
                          by the early church fathers. Your theory, if I understand you, posits a
                          tradition amongst presbyters which allows them to supply the "adult"
                          interpretation. Such a tradition would, all else being equal, survive and be
                          transmuted into allegorical interpretation, and the survival of such a
                          tradition can be tested for. If you have already examined this possibility,
                          I would be very interested to know the results.

                          Thankyou again,

                          Tom Curtis
                        • Karel Hanhart
                          ... As an ecumenically oriented pastor/theologian I am also approaching the Gospel from a faith perspective I believe the haggadot (stories) in the Hebrew
                          Message 12 of 30 , Feb 20, 2001
                            tomkirbel@... wrote:

                            > Karel, thankyou also for your reply. Obviously I am unable to make detailed
                            > comment on your theory until I have read your book (which unfortunatly I will
                            > not be able to do in the near future). I commented on your interpretation
                            > not to specificly criticise it, but to use it as an example of how I think
                            > research ought to be done on methodological grounds. I did this as part of
                            > my debate with Antonio Jerez. Though I reffered to your interpretations as
                            > ad hoc, obviously I do not know without reading your book whether that is a
                            > fair description.
                            >
                            > For the record, I also do not think there are goood grounds in method for
                            > treating healing and nature miracles distinctly. Given the possibility of
                            > "psycho-somatic cures" there may be good ground in fact, but we should find
                            > evidence of that in our sources without introducing it as a methodological
                            > assumption. Of course, and this is the nub of my debate with Antonio, I
                            > don't think we should exclude the possibility of miracles happening as a
                            > methodological assumption. We should instead find the evidence in our
                            > sources that they did not (or, if that is the case, that they did).
                            >
                            > I am debating Antonio on this point because I think that using methodological
                            > naturalism: 1) can result in a failure to properly test theories against
                            > evidence; 2) alienates from the debate people who have a legitimate interest
                            > in that debate; and 3) for those (such as myself) for whom theism is still a
                            > live option, it precludes the evidence generated from being used as a test of
                            > theism.

                            As an ecumenically oriented pastor/theologian I am also approaching the Gospel
                            from a faith perspective I believe the haggadot (stories) in the Hebrew Bible
                            and in the Gospels
                            are meant to point to the working of the Spirit through a surprising and
                            arresting 'miraculous' narrative which the author didnot intend to be taken
                            literally. He rather would want his readers to awaken their faith in the working
                            of the Spirit (in the case of the Gospels through Jesus).in certain situations
                            (e.g. the relation of Judeans and Samaritans).
                            Risking a modern modern example: I would regard a sudden peaceful solution to the
                            conflict in the
                            Middle East to be a miracle; but I would not regard a story about a sudden and
                            mysterious rebuilding of the Temple on Mt Zion or the sudden appearance of
                            Mohammed on that site to be a miracle story.
                            .

                            > With regard to your theory, a test I would very like to see is the extent to
                            > which your midrashes survive (as allegorical interpretations) in commentaries
                            > by the early church fathers.

                            An allegory is something quite different from a midrash even though a midrash can
                            be an allegory.
                            The 'changing from water into wine' f.i. is in my view both a midrash and an
                            allegory.

                            The problem with the evidence from the Fathers is the fact that they were not
                            Jews. By then the
                            fall of Jerusalem was approached in an anti-judaic manner, as punishment by God.
                            To John Mark
                            and his Judean readers. The Roman conquest and the destruction of the temple was
                            a disaster that had come over them as over all Judeans that cried out for a
                            theodice. The open tomb ending was Mark's answer. To the Fathers the destruction
                            of the temple did not touch them existentially. To them it was 'simply' a divine
                            confirmation of their christology and ecclesiology, which was denied in the
                            synagogue. The anti-judaism of the Church Fathers has come to the fore in many
                            publications and need not be repeated here. In my book I demonstrated
                            confirmation of my midrashic exegesis of the open tomb in the Epistle of
                            Barnabas..
                            yours cordially,


                            Karel
                          • Bob Schacht
                            ... Now, to be sure, Anderson and Stark are referring to the hoi polloi, not the Fathers. Nevertheless, it seems to me like you have turned significant border
                            Message 13 of 30 , Feb 20, 2001
                              At 04:26 PM 2/20/01 +0100, Karel Hanhart wrote:

                              >...The problem with the evidence from the Fathers is the fact that they
                              >were not Jews. By then the fall of Jerusalem was approached in an
                              >anti-judaic manner, as punishment by God. To John Mark and his Judean
                              >readers. The Roman conquest and the destruction of the temple was a
                              >disaster that had come over them as over all Judeans that cried out for a
                              >theodice. The open tomb ending was Mark's answer. To the Fathers the
                              >destruction of the temple did not touch them existentially. To them it was
                              >'simply' a divine
                              >confirmation of their christology and ecclesiology, which was denied in
                              >the synagogue. The anti-judaism of the Church Fathers has come to the fore
                              >in many publications and need not be repeated here. ...

                              Well, I'm not so sure. Richard Anderson wrote on another list:

                              >In my paper Rodney Stark and the Ending of Acts, available on my web page,
                              >I stated:
                              >Rodney Stark, using his solid background in the sociology of religion, has
                              >shown that the mission to the Jews probably succeeded.(3) Furthermore, the
                              >principle of cultural continuity and the principle that 'Social movement
                              >grow much faster when they spread through social network'(4) does provide a
                              >partial explanation for the explosive growth of Christianity. The network
                              >growth rate exhibited by Christianity has been confirmed by the Mormon
                              >example.(5) Stark has shown that 'Christianity offered twice as much
                              >cultural continuity to the Hellenized Jews as to Gentiles.'(6) Stark stated,
                              >and his conclusion is well documented, 'that not only was it the Jews of the
                              >diaspora who provided the initial basis for the church growth during the
                              >first and early second centuries, but that Jews continued as a significant
                              >source of Christian converts until at least as late as the fourth century
                              >and that Jewish Christianity was still significant in the fifth century.'(7)
                              >fn3: Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity, (Princeton 1996), 49-71.
                              >fn4: Stark, 55.
                              >fn5: Stark, 18, 56.
                              >fn6: Stark, 59.
                              >fn6: Stark, 49.
                              >Daniel Boyarin, Dying for God said that there were significant intercultural
                              >border crossings between Christianity and Judaism up until the 5th century
                              >essentially agreeing with Rodney Stark without mentioning him and using
                              >different data.
                              >However, I think you would need to read Danielou, The Theology of Jewish
                              >Christianity, and other works on Jewish Christianity to obtain answers to
                              >some of your specific questions....
                              >
                              >Richard H. Anderson
                              >Wallingford PA
                              >http://www.geocities.com/gospelofluke

                              Now, to be sure, Anderson and Stark are referring to the hoi polloi, not
                              the Fathers. Nevertheless, it seems to me like you have turned "significant
                              border crossings" into a chasm, and have thereby have perhaps exaggerated
                              the differences.

                              Bob
                              Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D.
                              Northern Arizona University
                              Flagstaff, AZ


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